Poisoned Marshmallows

            Imagine a story in which your protagonist is the victim of a poisoning. And the mode in which the poison was delivered was marshmallows! 

Does she die in the first scene? If so, how do you tell her story? The reasons that someone hated her enough to want her dead would be revealed as the story spins.

Or, perhaps your protagonist is the poisoner. Why would she choose marshmallows and not, say, a bottle of wine? Does the intended victim have a passion for the simple marshmallow?

How does the poisoner make sure the intended victim is the one who consumes the poison, and not some innocent child?

Your task is to tell the story in such a way that readers will be enthralled.

Narrative is important in setting the scene. Dialogue is needed to establish the tense relationship between the victim and the poisoner.

Rely on sensory details. Readers need to see, imagine the taste, smell and touch of the marshmallows. And to watch the suffering of the victim. Is it a quick or slow death?

Have fun with this one.

In Peril

Dangerous situations arise in books and movies with great regularity. There are several reasons, but probably the most likely is that when a character is in peril, the viewer/reader is at the end of her seat, intently hoping that all works out well in the end. Such situations increase tension, and a story without tension is flat.

A good source for discovering dangerous situations is the news. It seems as if children frequently fall in holes or drains. Drivers get trapped in cars that have been smashed in accidents. Hikers get stranded in bad weather. Whales go astray and find themselves trapped in ice.

Your task is to write an original story in which your protagonist, whether human or not, is in peril. It needs to be logical and treacherous enough that the reader will understand that it is a life or death situation. Don’t water it down. Throw in a number of complications.

Begin with the scene, be it a frozen pond, abandoned well or ice-slick highway. Describe what befalls the protagonist and how he feels. Next list an ascending list of complications that occur, taking into consideration that no rescue is as simple as it looks on television. Rescuers often need multiple interventions in order to free the individual.

Write the story, remembering to ratchet up the suspense with the addition of each complication.

Have fun with this one.